Banishing Belly Fat

Belly fat. Cue the collective sigh, because we all know that the struggle is very, very real. On the one hand, we are surrounded by celebrities who seem to have perfect bodies, bounce back from a baby, and “age” with nary a fine line, while we work desk jobs and dream of that perfect Gisele midsection. What if I told you that your midsection isn’t as hopeless as you thought? That’s right, you can lose belly fat. But it is going to take a little work, and no, there is no magical tool that will do it for you.

First off, what are the reasons for excess belly fat?

Quite simply, your belly pooch has resulted from an imbalance in calories in vs. calories worked out. Regardless of who we are, the human body produces fat when calorie intake is in excess. Even so, you might be eating half the calories of your best friend, and she loses weight while you do not. The reason is that some people are simply blessed with high resting metabolisms. One more reason to envy Gisele.

Another reason you might be holding excess weight around your middle? Hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fluctuate with our ages, and imbalances of those hormones can result in weight being more likely to deposit in certain areas. Yet another hormone might be to blame: cortisol, aka the stress hormone. If you are stressed out (often about trying to lose weight, which just results in a vicious cycle!), your cortisol levels will rise, and your body will start to hold on to weight, often in your midsection.

Finally, some of us are just genetically predisposed to depositing weight around our middles due to our body shape or just the way that our bodies work. For example, “apple shapes” tend to retain weight around their middles, while “pear shapes” carry weight lower.

Beyond Vanity: Another Very Important Reason to Care About Belly Fat

Belly fat is more than just skin-deep: fat around your midsection can actually be a powerful indicator of your long-term health. Visceral fat – fat that surrounds your organs and is largely present around your midsection – is a major contributor to such health issues as Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, heart disease, and even certain cancers. In short, whittling down your middle can save your life!

How to Get Rid of Excess Belly Fat:

First, you must address the reasons for the belly fat in the first place: Diet and exercise? Hormones? Genetics? You might even need to get a doctor involved, particularly if you think that you are at risk for having visceral fat or hormonal imbalances that are preventing you from losing weight.

Most important in losing belly fat is to remember that you cannot “spot reduce,” or lose weight ONLY in a certain place. So while you might wish that you could just do 100 crunches a night for a six-pack, it might also comfort you to know that you don’t have to do 100 crunches a night to get a better, slimmer midsection!

Rather, you need to focus on burning calories by increasing your heart rate in a workout that incorporates both strength training and moderate- to high-intensity cardio. This will provide the added benefit of increasing your resting metabolic rate (remember that friend who can eat all the cheeseburgers?), because by adding strength or resistance training (lower immediate calorie burning) to moderate- to high-intensity cardio (high immediate calorie burning), you will increase lean muscle mass, which will increase your resting metabolism, and thus help you burn more calories just by being alive!

So get that heart rate up, even if you do so in spurts. Look for exercise classes that incorporate HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, principles, or add in cardio bursts to your circuit workout. Focus on total-body exercises, which will engage more muscles simultaneously, and thus burn more calories and develop more lean muscle

Some of the best core-strengthening exercises are traditional planks, side planks, leg lowers and raises, exercise ball pass-offs, and properly executed bicycle crunches.

Core-strengthening exercises should be incorporated into every workout you do, whether sprinkled throughout or in one 5-minute block.

Banish the Bloat: Dietary Changes That Will Combat Belly Fat

Working out does not guarantee a flat tummy, but a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can yield big results.

Watch sodium intake: Buy low-sodium products and add your own salt, preferably in the form of sea salt (not table salt)

Decrease processed foods and artificial sweeteners, which can increase inflammation and also cause gas in your belly.

Reach for whole, natural fats over “fake” or added fats. Think avocado or natural nut butter over salted butter. If you have to have butter, reach for smaller amounts of the real thing, and not margarine. But see if you really need butter as much as you think. You might not.

Increase fiber intake and go for whole grains. Aim for 25-30 g daily, but if you normally have a low-fiber diet, do so gradually so that you don’t inadvertently cause bloat as you stomach gets used to the new food!

Another added benefit of actually getting out there and getting moving? As you “work it out,” you may find that you are able to deal with some of your stressors, sleep better, and thus lower cortisol levels (which are causing you to hold on to that excess fat).

You might not be able to spot reduce, but by strengthening your core as you make some dietary changes, decrease stress, and increase your calorie burn, that killer body will be revealed as the fat melts away!


Sanjeev Krishna Yoga Studio

1)Tell us a little bit about SKY and what sets you guys apart from other yoga studios?

SKY is an institution of self-knowledge apart from all other stretches and postures that is generally understood at Yoga centers. What is self-Knowledge? A person will never say “I feel bored /life is boring,” if he or she has started understanding oneself. We human beings are a university by itself. Not understanding this uniqueness lands up in uneasiness in all levels, diseases in all aspects of health. If ignorant – we become a patient, if knowledgeable -we become the doctors for our own self. Learning / understanding and experiencing this knowledge to mature in wisdom and getting the best of every human life is why SKY stands as a unique institution than just the physical concepts of YOGA.

2) Many people think that yoga is just stretching and breathing, in a few words can you please summarize the essence of yoga.

Yoga is not just stretching and breathing. Yoga is the art to learn how to harmonize and manage oneself in daily life. To become a master to manage , self-health, family, professional life so that all other management in life attains success. Learning, understanding and practically implementing to maintain a balance in life is the essence of YOGA.

3) In your experience what ailments has yoga cured?

YOGA can cure many ailments, rest can only treat the uneasiness of others. Learning and understanding the source of the uneasiness by the individual alone can cure diseases. Hence uneasiness of the mind manifest as diseases having the source for all the psychosomatic ailments that the modern generations suffer.

4) Yoga is such a peaceful practice; can you explain to us what Kalarippayattu is?

A mother is said to be the greatest warrior when it comes to the protection of a child. Likewise, Yoga teaches the individuals to learn the art to self-management. Kalari, being a part of Yoga teaches the art to physically defend the physical body in adverse situation’s so life can be managed with confidence, courage, strength and fearlessness and this helps to develop the personality of the person at all levels.

5) Is yoga Nidra like hypnotherapy?

Yoga Nidra is the science and art to take away the deep impression set in the sub consciousness mind of a person. Hence this knowledge helps the individual to be guided to take all these phobias, neurosis, etc. from the sub consciousness mind and help the person to blossom to a beautiful personality and to help them succeed in life with all fullness.

6) We would like your top 3 tips to anybody who wants to start yoga but unsure of how to go about it.

Initially a person can start knowing about his

  1. body, by getting to learn hatha Yoga, the traditional method,
  2. his breath [breathing techniques]
  3. his mind [art of disciplining oneself with the practice of meditation]

and gradually learn the art of developing the knowledge of himself as a person and then master the art of self-management.

About Guruji Sanjeev Krishna:














Guruji, as he is affectionately named, is a Yoga Master & Guide based in Dubai, UAE. He learnt the ancient Wisdom of Yoga by thorough practice and training under the guidance of the highly skilled Yogis. Since the tender age of 12, he trained intensively with discipline, persistence, and passion and over the years began imparting the knowledge he gained onto others. In 2003, he formally started his own yoga institution in Dubai (Certified ISO 9001), which is now known as Sanjeev Krishna Yoga. Today, he stands distinguished from other establishments who focus around only “physical workout” by embedding the most crucial component of Yoga, which is the “Act of balancing”.


Carb Cycling for Weight Loss and Improved Fitness


Weight loss diets are nothing new. And weight loss itself involves a fairly basic equation: burn more calories than you take in, and you will lose weight due to the calorie deficit. Of course, the factors that go into the equation include much more complex things like metabolism, the nutritional quality of different foods, a person’s current activity level, underlying medical issues that may put roadblocks in an individual’s way, and much more.

As simple as it seems, there are a number of different approaches to creating that calorie deficit, and more to the point, to creating a healthier, more balanced and more lifestyle-focused shift that enhances a person’s happiness and overall longevity, rather than just making cosmetics changes.

One diet and fitness plan that has picked up a lot of interest in recent years is known as carb cycling.

What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is a diet during which you eat varying amounts of carbohydrates in any given day, based on a strict schedule.

What does the diet look like? The more popular any diet gets, the more variations of it there are, so rather than presenting one true carb cycling diet, it’s more helpful to look at the basic foundation that most participants build on, which is a five-day cycle.

Participants can pick and choose which foods they eat, as long as they fall within those basic nutrient breakdowns and ratios in the illustration above.

Some participants will cut out all gluten, dairy, soy, and alcohol, while others will merely try to limit those foods. Some will strictly track their food intake in order to perfectly meet the macros, or nutrient ratios, while others prefer using a simpler system (for example, Yuri Elkaim, author of the best-selling book The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, who recommends using portion sizes to come close to the ratios without actually measuring and tracking).

Unlike a fully low-carb diet, which can result in negative side effects (less energy, more cravings, a drop in exercise performance), cycling can, in theory, give the body regular metabolism boosts while still helping lower body fat and increase performance.

First made popular in the bodybuilding and figure competition circles among people keenly interested in dropping body fat and seeing quick physical changes, carb cycling has become more mainstream, and even some registered dietitians and nutrition experts are using a version of it with their clients.

However, Katie Heddleston, MS, RD, warns that the term carb cycling may be used differently by different people, and always, it’s important to work with an expert who can tailor the plan to your specific needs and goals.

What the mainstream media and fitness industry refer to as “carb cycling” is technically “food cycling,” Heddleston tells me. “This type of diet takes focus and diligence, as there is a lot to keep track of during each day of the five-day food cycle.” She goes on to say, “For what I teach and do as a dietitian, this type of food cycling isn’t one I do with my clients. However, I do appreciate a cyclic diet. Our bodies are not static, so our diets shouldn’t be static. In the version of carb cycling I do with my clients, we focus in on cycling the carb amounts for each day, pairing them appropriately with a workout that requires that particular amount. For instance, a long run day or a heavy leg lift day, would utilize a higher amount of carbs. My method removes a bit of guesswork and avoids extremes, such as a 24-hour fast.”

It’s important to note: carbs themselves are not bad. In fact, they’re an important part of a balanced, healthy diet! Carbs help us have the energy we need to work and play and they can also help with recovery after workouts. Without them, we can experience mood swings (as anyone who has ever cut carbs for even a single day can attest). Plus, carbs are in some of the most delicious foods and snacks, and cutting out the things that bring us joy can make for an unsustainable diet plan.

But as with any nutrient or food source, there are choices that are better than others, at least in terms of meeting the goal of a healthier, more fit life. For carbs, it comes down to simple vs. complex as well as foods that naturally have higher or lower carbs.

Who Can Carb Cycling Work For?

Because of the varied carb intakes over the plan, there are several benefits that can happen to your body, including replenished glycogen stores (which means when you’re working out, you can do so at a higher intensity for longer periods of time), temporary spikes in insulin levels, which can help protect and rebuild muscle tissue, and maximized fat burning so that even after you’re done working out, your body continues to work efficiently on your behalf.

The takeaway is that carb cycling can help build muscle, drop body fat, and improve performance.

And while it has restrictions, it is not as restrictive as other plans, which means it may be a fit for people who are not ideally suited to other diets, including those with diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, etc.

Carb cycling can help people break through weight loss plateaus, for example, or help someone overcome unhealthy food cravings without feeling deprived.

It can easily be adapted for beginners all the way up to advanced participants. Heidi and Chris Powell, personal trainers and hosts of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss, are well-known for espousing a carb cycling diet and fitness routine, and they offer five different plans on their website.

Finally, because this is meant to be a lifestyle change and not just a short-term diet, people who follow a carb cycling plan may find that they can stay on it forever, or take short breaks before resuming it again.

What Does The Fitness Look Like?

While carb cycling by nature focuses mostly on the diet and nutrition side, most people who follow this plan also adjust their workouts and activity levels to get the most fat-burning effects from their food intake.

Rest, recovery, and efforts to relieve stress are crucial for making this plan a true body-mind reset.

What do The Experts Say?

It’s mixed! An Arizona State University study found that a low-carb diet offered no weight loss advantages when compared to a more traditional diet that features a calorie deficit but no specific rules on nutrient ratios (the study did not look specifically at cycling, with a mix of high- and low-carb days). But it’s important to note that carb cycling is not a low-carb diet, and even if it helps a person lose weight, it may not result in more rapid fat loss.

Others warn that any type of diet that restricts a certain type of food, nutrient, or other dietary behavior is a slippery slope, and that even if it’s successful for a short period of time, lifestyle changes are more effective than diets.

Many of the reviews of carb cycling are anecdotal. With any diet or nutritional plan, it’s smart to set wellness goals rather than physical appearance goals. I’m a big believer in non-scale victories, which have nothing to do with a specific weight or clothing size – things like “I can run further than I could before,” or “I was able to sit more comfortably in an airplane seat.”

I myself took part in a six-week carb cycling program, broken down into the five-day cycle listed above. There were highs and lows, and some surprising positive side effects. For example, by cutting out gluten and dairy, my infant daughter’s eczema significantly improved (I was breast-feeding her at the time), which helped me isolate foods that I might want to avoid moving forward. Also, after some rough days of cutting most sources of sugar out of my diet, I found that foods tasted better without a lot of added sweeteners. And I lost eight pounds over the six weeks.

Although of course, please consult with a medical professional before starting – that is so important, and I am not a registered dietitian myself.


From Exercise to Aquasize

The history of aqua therapy dates to the fifth century, when bathing in thermal springs was considered not only hygienic, but also as having remedial effects. It wasn’t until the 20th century that we began to see the use of water as an outlet for exercise. Since then, the therapeutic and remedial properties of water-based exercises on cardiovascular and metabolic health have been and continue to be extensively studied. Modern aquatic fitness classes take place in pools, and classes are designed with the intent of increasing your pulmonary and cardiovascular health without risking unnecessary joint and muscle pain.

Today, aqua fitness is a type of exercise that is performed in a vertical position, either in chest-deep water or while suspended in deep water with a foam flotation belt. This type of exercise uses water as resistance, which allows the constant engagement of complementary muscle groups. The waves created during a group aqua fitness class also add to the intensity of the workout by creating instability and turbulence, forcing participants to work harder to balance than they would have to on land.

Aqua fitness has extraordinary effects on your overall health. Because of hydrostatic pressure (the varying amounts of pressure you feel at different depths of the pool) a person’s heart and lungs are able to work between 30 percent and 60 percent harder than on land, while experiencing nearly the same amount of fatigue.

Who Does Aqua Fitness Benefit?

In short, aqua fitness has something to offer for everyone. In the water, most exercises are low- to moderate-impact and are suitable for a wide range of ability levels. Programs like arthritis therapy and aqua yoga are of lower intensity than Aqua Zumba but are not necessarily limited to senior participants or people with arthritis. Conversely, aqua jogging and general aquasize programs are not limited to higher-level athletes. Even in high-intensity programs, a good instructor will offer modifications for moves in order to make the workouts less impactful on weak joints, and enjoyable for a broad range of participants. If you are overweight, pregnant, or have painful joints, the sensation of buoyancy in the water creates a great sense of relief.

Every class has something unique to offer, and choosing the one that is right for you might take some time. Ask if there are any “first time free” classes offered at your facility to help guide your decision.

Which Class is Right for You?

Before joining your first aqua fitness program, it’s important to identify exactly what you’re trying to gain from it. Most aquatic facilities offer a diverse selection of classes to target the individual needs of their members.

Temperature Control

Because humans evolved to be endotherms – we generate energy and maintain our own body temperatures – and because water is a strong conductor of heat, even the subtlest drop in temperature may make it feel like you are swimming in the Arctic Ocean. People who are unable to move vigorously, have little body fat, or have little functional muscle mass are likely to become too cold during slow-moving/therapy-based exercises and may need to make some modifications. If you feel your body temperature starting to drop during a workout, there are several things you can do to maintain comfort:

  1. Stay in one spot.As you move around in the water, your body heat will disperse. If you have the option to perform moves without leaving your spot, the water immediately surrounding your body will stay warm.
  2. Bundle up!As long as your facility allows it, feel free to wear a light T-shirt, tights, or bathing cap during your workout. A wetsuit, while seemingly effective, will be too buoyant for most aqua fitness classes, and will be difficult to remove quickly if you become overheated.
  3. Increase the intensity.If you are instructed to perform a move that isolates one part of your body, such as your pectorals, and feel your core temperature dropping, move your legs vigorously to preserve your body heat.
  4. Increase the intensity even more.If you feel comfortable enough to increase the overall power of your moves, do it! You’ll generate much more body heat, as well as improve the overall effect of your workout.
  5. Stretch in the shower.Every class you attend should end in a five-minute guided stretch. If you find that you begin to shiver during this period, continue the routine in a warm shower.

On the other hand, higher-intensity workouts such as Aqua Zumba and aqua jogging are meant to be done in cooler temperatures, but it’s difficult for any facility to meet everyone’s needs. If you find yourself in an aquatic environment with only one pool and the temperature is too warm for the workout that you’re doing, you might feel uncomfortable. Some suggestions for keeping cool are:

  1. Drink cold water.Bring a water bottle to every class that you attend – even the ones in cold water. Keep the water bottle on the edge of the pool deck – out of the way of the instructor – and hydrate, or pour it over your head, as necessary.
  2. If you’re pressed for time or can’t afford to get your hair wet, try another suggestion for keeping cool. Alternately, if you’re planning on showering after the class, a quick submersion of your head works almost instantly to dissipate heat.
  3. Slow down.As moves get faster, your body will inevitably produce more heat. Assess which moves will help your reach your personal goals, and slow down the others.

The ways in which people use water has evolved greatly over the years, but its beneficial properties are undisputed. Water offers resistance, buoyancy, and comfort, all of which come together to help create workouts that are specific to individuals’ needs. Whether you choose to partake in an aquatic fitness program for rehabilitation, strength, cardio, or for the social aspect, the water has something to offer everyone. Water is abundant in pools, lakes, and oceans; take advantage of it.

Interested? Try a class at AquaFit and save up to 18% on (


Experience the difference at A-Tone Fitness Lounge

1) Tell us a bit about A-Tone and what sets you guys apart from other studios

At A-Tone we have 3 workouts  – celebrity Pilates, cross-cuit and swing yoga.  We offer Yasmin’s secret to every Bollywood actress’ body, to help tone and change their body.  Cross-cuit is a circuit based training, only found at A-TONE, which helps in burning calories and changing the body type.  Swing yoga is yoga on a swing, great workout to really get that deep stretch in.

2) You have a Bollywood celebrity trainer as your co-founder- Why did you choose to partner with Yasmin Karachiwala?

We chose Yasmin as her method of Pilates is unique and different from others.  She has used her Pilates techniques on different celebrities such as Katrina Kaif, Depika Padokone, Alia Bhatt etc and transformed their bodies.  At A-tone our clients can have access to such workouts.

3) Given that she is based in India, what does she bring to the table and how does she influence the workouts?

All the Pilates trainers that are at A-TONE have been trained by Yasmin and follow her methods of Pilates.  She keeps visiting to refresh their methods so we have the most updates form of Pilates available here in Dubai.

4) You offer Yoga, Pilates and a hybrid workout called cross-cuit- can you explain what cross-cuit is and its benefits?

Cross-cuit is a form of circuit training, using weights and body weight workout.  It’s a combination workout working different body parts while adding in some cardio to push that heart rate up and really feel that burn, and eventually see that toned body

5) What are you top 3 tips for people who want to workout but don’t know where to start and which activity would you recommend they start with

Get a personal trainer.  Do not jump into a group class as you would be intimidated and feel pressured to catch up and can also lead to injuries.

Do a combination workout.  Mixing it up really helps the body work in different directions and keeps monotony at bay.  Do cross-cuit one day and Pilates the other, and throw in yoga once or twice a week to really see that body shape up.

Take one day as it comes.  Rome was not built in a day.  Slowly you will get fitter and stronger each day and see the change in your clothes and fitness levels

Finally, give yourself credit for starting, for making that change and not just dreaming about it!!  It’s the first step that counts the most.

In terms of how to start, Pilates is a great way to begin your workout journey.  It’s a mindful workout and not too harsh on the body.  It helps work those deep inner muscles and really burn those calories.  After this, the trainer can kick in some cardio and weights combination to keep the heart rate up and continue the burn.

Shake up your workout with a protein shake

You put so much effort into getting fit that you’re probably willing to try just about anything in the hope of staying fit and making all that work pay off. Look around the gym or fitness studio and you’ll probably find a sea of bottles, filled with various shakes, smoothies, and supplements. Everyone from the muscle-head training for a figure competition to the grandmother who wants to get in shape to play with her grandchildren seems to have a magic formula to sip on between reps or on the walk back out to the real world.

In fact, you might think that, if you don’t follow the trend, you’re somehow missing out on the key to health and wellness, that the shake itself is what would seal your success.

Here are a few quick facts, and then we’ll dive in a bit deeper:

  • Nutrition is crucial to your overall fitness. You may have heard the phrase “abs begin in the kitchen,” and to a certain point, that’s true. But defining your goal is the most important part of the equation. If you’re looking to lose weight, you may have a different set of nutritional guidelines to follow than someone who wants to build muscle mass, perform better in a specific sport, get better endurance for longer workouts, etc. There is no one-shake-fits-all recipe.
  • Calories count. This may seem like an overly simple statement, but the truth is that every addition to your shake or smoothie means that the overall calorie load and nutritional density change. Dumping in various powders, fruits, nut butters, and more may make the shake more delicious and filling, but you need to weigh that against what it will require you to do in terms of activity.
  • The more processed the ingredient is, the more cautious you should be. Regulation of supplements and shakes can be a little looser than for medically prescribed items, and companies have a vested interest in making delicious and appealing products, so you may not want or need some additives. Sugars or artificial sweeteners are prevalent in many brands, as are artificial flavors, refined soy, and other ingredients companies add to bulk up the powder. Some supplementation may be very helpful, but keep in mind that real, whole foods provide many nutritional benefits without the drawbacks!

Let’s get into more detail and specifically talk about the what, why, when, and how of protein shakes.


What’s the difference between a shake and a protein shake? Sometimes, not that much. Because protein is found in milk and milk products as well as nuts, nut butters, and several other additives, even a dessert shake has protein in it! The biggest difference (outside of marketing) is that protein shakes are designed to support and enhance fitness goals, and they are meant to be consumed at specific periods or intervals so they help muscle cells recover after tough workouts.

While not required, another hallmark of a protein shake is that it often includes a protein powder or supplement. The sources may include:

  • Milk
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Legumes (peas, nuts, or beans – technically, these may be classified as vegetables, but companies have started to use them as plant-based powders)

What’s especially nice about the options is that there are variations for all needs: milk and whey protein sources won’t be appropriate for someone with a dairy intolerance, but plant-based proteins may work well. Someone who avoids soy may prefer a pea or egg protein.

If the goal is just to increase your protein intake, eating a spoonful of almond butter or a couple of hard-boiled eggs will do the trick. A shake can include other nutrient-rich ingredients like fruits, vegetables, or grains to make a blend that is more filling, more flavorful, and a more balanced part of the day’s food.


Protein is a macronutrient, and along with fat and carbohydrate, it’s essential to the human diet. Protein is made up of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds, and its main goal in the context of fitness is to help build and repair body tissues.

types of amino acids: essential, which the body can’t make on its own, and nonessential, which the body is able to manufacture. Essential amino acids have to come from food or another source, which is why powders and other supplements are so trendy.

How much protein does a person need? It really depends on the individual and the goals. NASM recommends:

  • Sedentary adult: 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day
  • Strength athletes: 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day
  • Endurance athletes: 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day

Outside of a fitness regimen, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. (You can use this interactive calculator to look at your own needs, and remember that 1 pound equals 0.453592 kilograms, so you will have to do some conversions!)


Timing matters, and for some, it’s crucial. A person managing a disease like diabetes, for example, may have blood sugar concerns that are affected by a workout. A pregnant woman may want to pay closer attention to what she eats before, during, and after her workout because of its effect on the growing baby.

And for all of us, ensuring that we’re giving our muscles and body the fuel and hydration they need not only to perform but to perform safely is at the heart of the matter.

Typically, athletes consume a protein shake after a workout, especially if the goal is to help repair muscle and let the body absorb and process the shake quickly.

But recent studies show that drinking a shake or eating protein an hour or two before a workout may be as or even more effective! Remember those amino acids we talked about above? They can, according to many experts, prevent injury and increase your ability to build muscle during a workout. Getting the nutrients into your system before you work up a sweat and then replenishing with a small snack or shake afterwards may be the perfect 1-2 combo.

Be careful consuming anything closer to a workout, though – it can be hard on your stomach, and if you’re uncomfortable, you won’t be able to do your routine effectively!


I asked some of my registered dietitian and nutritionist friends for some smoothie and shake recipes, and they came up with some delicious ideas. Notice their focus on real, whole foods and natural protein sources – and when they do recommend supplementing with a powder, they explain which one and why:

Choose My Plate has a great list of foods with their protein amounts, so depending on your own needs, you can add some items to help boost a macronutrient.

And remember: be cautious of calorie overload. A protein shake can quickly go from a few hundred calories to a few thousand and be more like a dessert than a recovery snack. Your shake should help you reach your goals, not derail them.

So, what’s the take-away message?

Pay attention to what you eat and when, and if a shake or smoothie sounds delicious and refreshing and you can use it as a vehicle for supporting your workout – go for it! I love having a green smoothie, especially after a really sweaty workout. I use spinach or kale, a frozen banana, a few dates, mixed berries, almond milk, a little nut butter, a scoop of protein powder, and a dash of cinnamon and enjoy every last sip of the sweet, healthy treat.

But if that doesn’t appeal to you, either find another source of protein that you do love (a spoonful of peanut butter!) or just eat a well-balanced diet. There’s no magic in a shake, and if you skip it, you aren’t undoing your workout or missing the key to weight loss and fitness.


A Guide to Postpartum Fitness

In an era when we are surrounded by images of celebrities bouncing back effortlessly after having a baby, it can be difficult to have realistic expectations for your postpartum fitness journey. The focus on returning to your pre-baby body also can take the focus away from the real reasons behind engaging in postpartum fitness: long-term health and happiness for you and your baby. Pursuing postpartum fitness will not only help you achieve certain superficial physical goals, but also provide myriad mental and life benefits, from self-care to an improved ability to care for your baby.

When considering your return to fitness after giving birth, setting yourself up for healthy, realistic expectations should be at the forefront of your mind. It is easy to be convinced by the media and celebrities that achieving that “pre-baby bod” is easy, painless, and should happen extremely quickly. Unfortunately, while many celebrity moms have succeeded in empowering new mothers to pursue body confidence, they have also set new moms up for accomplishing their goals within an abbreviated timeline.

Why are celebrities able to achieve such results in such a short amount of time? The simple answer is a combination of fortunate genetics and even more fortunate circumstances. Remember, celebrities often have a whole staff and team to help them rebound to that amazing body; also, they are PAID to do this, and their careers demand it! Remember that celebrities are, in many ways, professional athletes: they are in exemplary physical condition and have personal trainers, dietitians, and nannies on staff to make sure that they return to that amazing pre-baby body. Furthermore, they are usually blessed with the genetics to help them, and years of maintenance encourage their bodies to rebound to their previous states. Focus on your own journey!

While genetics and circumstances – such as the amount of time and thought that you can devote to returning to fitness – are major elements in your body’s resiliency, so too are level of fitness at time of birth and age. A 40-year-old woman who has maintained a steady fitness regime of workouts and healthy eating for years might recover faster than a new mother who is 30 years old but has always led a sedentary lifestyle. As a general rule, however, one can expect that the more advanced in age and less fit one is, the harder and longer the process will be, and greater care that will need to be taken to ensure a safe and sustainable health and fitness lifestyle postpartum.

So, you have given birth. Congratulations! What can you expect from your fitness journey?

First and foremost, check with your doctor! Depending on the method of delivery and any complications that might have occurred, you may need total rest for your abdomen during the first two months.

The first six weeks after giving birth, expect to be cleared for walking only. With the change in your lifestyle and taking care of a little one on a less-than-optimal sleep schedule, you will likely be grateful to have permission not to work out! Feeling pressure to get back at it or cut calories? Remember that in the weeks following birth, your body is healing from the inside out, not to mention that you may also be producing milk for your child. The physical repairs, changes in lifestyle and hours spent awake, and breastfeeding will actually increase your caloric needs, often by as many as 500 extra calories a day for breastfeeding alone. Talk to your doctor to determine how much weight loss is safe during this time; losing weight too quickly can be a sign that something is wrong.

Many new mothers are surprised to discover that, even without a baby inside, they still have a bump! Don’t worry, the baby-less bump will go down with time; if it does not, you may be dealing with diastasis recti.

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti, or separation of the large abdominal muscles, is a condition that affects approximately 1 in 200,000 pregnant women. If you are still not seeing your belly flatten at all in the weeks or months following birth, or if there appears to be a drastic or uneven pooch at any time, talk to your doctor, as you may have diastasis recti. This will impact your return to fitness.

Diastasis recti is more prevalent in women with babies of larger birth weight, women with multiple births, and women over 35. Though rarely painful, it is a relatively serious condition that will impact the way you use your body and, if not treated correctly through physical therapy, can be permanent. Have your doctor examine you during your post-delivery appointments; if diastasis recti is present, consult a physical therapist immediately. Avoid exercises such as planks, situps, and even yoga poses such as downward dog.

During these first six weeks, focus on the joys and trials of new motherhood, as well as your mental and physical health through proper nutrition, sleep, gentle stretching, and, if necessary, counseling.

Six Weeks to Three Months

After your six-week appointment is the time to really start to buckle down on your nutrition. Remember, you are not only fueling your own body’s return to health and fitness, but also feeding that cutie in your arms! All the more reason to fuel for success with a diet full of veggies, whole foods, and quality proteins. Talk to your doctor about the calorie intake necessary for breastfeeding, because while you might have weight loss on the mind, your body needs sufficient fuel for the baby as well. A food journal is a great place to start.

Your doctor will begin to determine if you are fit for exercise at your six-week appointment. If your physician gives you the go-ahead, start to plan a return-to-fitness program. A balanced mix of cardio, strength training, and stability work will help you feel and look your best. But don’t expect to start out where you left off; instead, plan on starting gently and gradually increasing intensity month by month.

You might start with a full week of stroller walking with some bodyweight squats, triceps dips, and baby-weight biceps curls interspersed throughout. The second week might see you engage in some postpartum yoga or Pilates classes (find licensed practitioners!) and light weights at the gym. If you are new to working out with weights, hire a professional who can show you the proper way to work out your new body.  

Three to Six Months

Now might be a great time to try running! Aim for a total of 10 minutes of running your first time out, and gradually extend that time by adding in more intervals and more time running. Also, when you are walking, make it a working, not idling, walk. Make sure to hydrate and have a small snack with protein and carbohydrates after, such as a small, low-sugar granola bar (look for one with more protein than sugar, and less than 150 calories), or half an apple with a piece of string cheese.

Expect to be slower when running, to fatigue more easily, and to not to be able to carry the same amount of weight. That’s okay! You are going to set new post-baby personal records every day. Consider every workout a success and treat that time as self-care time, whether you meet up with girlfriends or enjoy the quiet.

During the first six months of your health and fitness journey, you’ll have weeks where you make incredible progress and weeks when you find that you plateau or even slip up. When less-successful weeks occur, remind yourself that this truly is a journey and that everybody is unique. Focus on your successes and what you can do, not what you can’t. Because you may not be able to do that pullup just yet. You might not be cleared for running, but that doesn’t mean that stairs are off-limits. You might have to carry your baby to comfort and get him or her to sleep, but that just means you have a little extra weight for you squats.

Set accessible goals that make sense for you and your lifestyle, above all, and enlist help to achieve those goals. Don’t assume that your body is going to respond the same way that it did before your child – fluctuating hormones, pelvic changes, and more will likely result in a body that seems to have a mind of its own for a little while.

6 Months to 1 Year

Six months after giving birth is a great time to assess your progress and potentially set new goals. If you have been stroller walking for the duration of your postpartum fitness journey, why not try stroller running and even set a goal of running a 5K with your baby in front of you? Maybe try your hand at a new form of exercise, like kickboxing or Zumba!

By the time your baby is about 9 months old, you should find that you are cleared for most all exercise and that you have made substantial progress in working toward your fitness and health goals. If you are no longer breastfeeding, remember that your diet may also require some changes to achieve any weight loss goals. That said, with the increase in fitness and activity as well as lean muscle mass, you might find that you actually need to eat more than before! If you have questions, consult a registered dietitian who can help you maintain your results.

You may have gotten into your postpartum fitness journey as a way to get back to your pre-baby body, but if you go about postpartum fitness correctly, you will likely find that activity is an indispensable part of your daily or weekly life. Keep it up, Mama, and set an amazing example for your kiddo to lead a life of health and happiness!


What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Working Out

Whether you’re a gym rat or a fitness beginner, we all have days when we don’t feel like working out. Maybe it’s been a stressful week, and you just want to get home and relax. Perhaps you’ve been working out for weeks and are feeling frustrated that you aren’t seeing results. Maybe you used to go to the gym regularly but fell off, and you’re now having a hard time returning. Or maybe you just have no idea where to start and are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect.

Whatever the reason, sometimes we just don’t feel like working out. Here are some tactics to get you through.

Make a Plan

The first step to reaching any goal is setting the goal in the first place. Try to make your goals S.M.A.R.T:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

This is usually the part that trips people up. Many people know they want to feel better, but they don’t know what will get them there because they haven’t given it much thought. Losing weight is measurable goal, but it isn’t terribly specific. How much weight do you want to lose? Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds, which is specific and measurable. It’s also more realistic and attainable than saying you want to lose 50 pounds is (which is still attainable, but much more difficult). Next, ask yourself whether the goal is relevant. If there’s no real reason you want to lose weight, you likely won’t stick to the goal. It must have some relevance in your life to matter to you. Finally, make it time bound by putting some constraints on the goal. How quickly do you want to lose 10 pounds? Two weeks may not be attainable, but two months might be. By making your goal time bound, you’re adding some built-in motivation and accountability.

Figure out What’s Holding you Back

Before you can implement steps to reach your goal, it’s important to determine what’s been holding you back so far. Are you struggling to feel motivated? Is working out hard because you don’t have a babysitter? You can’t justify the cost of a gym membership or personal trainer? Whatever is holding you back, it’s important to acknowledge it so you can get past it.

It’s also important to make sure you’re ready. Fitness, like any other habit, requires you to be ready to make a change in your life. Per the transtheoretical model of behavior change, if a person is not ready to make a change, it won’t stick. It’s important to understand which stage you’re in and that we can relapse and reenter at any stage. Slipping up every now and then does not set you back to square one.

Break the Plan Into Smaller Pieces

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your goals won’t be accomplished in one fell swoop either. Take that big goal you set and break it into smaller pieces. Sure, maybe you want to go to the gym five days a week, but how realistic is that when you’re first starting out? Set a smaller goal to start, such as working out three days a week, and celebrate when you accomplish it. You’ll feel great about hitting these goals, which will make you more likely to continue.

Not only can you break your plan into smaller pieces, but also you can break your workout into smaller pieces! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30–60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20–60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week). The good news is that research has shown that it is just as effective if you break these workouts into 10-minute intervals – if you’re working at the right intensity. As such, a 10-minute body weight workout before work, a 30-minute brisk walk at lunch, and 20 minutes on the stationary bike after work count as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.

Remove Excuses Before They Arise

This comes from identifying what has been holding you back. Get your gym bag ready at night before you go to bed so if you’re running late in the morning, you won’t skip bringing it. If you want to get up early for a run, lay out your workout clothes and get to bed early. That way, all you will need to do is throw them on, lace up your shoes and head out the door. Choose a time to work out and stick with it by creating an appointment in your calendar. You wouldn’t cancel a meeting with a coworker, so don’t cancel an appointment with yourself for your workout.

Working out for a specific event or goal, like a wedding or a high school reunion, can be great for motivation. The pitfall is that once that event has passed, it can be hard to maintain the motivation for working out that existed before. To maintain that motivation long term, it’s important to find your why. This is the real reason behind working out. For some people, it is becoming fitter so they aren’t out of breath while playing with their children. Others want to lose weight to live longer and to be around for their family. It could include wanting more energy to get through the day. Whatever the reason, it’s personal and it’s something that will last long term. When you know your why and are reminded of it every day, it’s a whole lot easier to get up before sunrise for a run.


Motion Ladies Fitness Center

Motion Ladies Fitness center is a boutique studio located in the heart of Jumeirah, with easy parking and a wonderful view of Burj Al Arab. It combines the latest equipment, qualified and passionate coaches and diversified classes making each workout fulfilling. You are invited to challenge yourself to become a fitter, healthier and happier you in a ladies only studio and to watch your body get transformed. Below are a few questions answered by the trainers at Motion ladies to give you a better understanding of the studio.

1)  Tell us a little bit about Motion Ladies, and what sets you guys apart from other fitness studios?

Motion, the “Fitness Villa”, is a community for Dubai Ladies to work on their lifestyle and reach their goals in a relaxing, supportive and cozy environment. Motion Fitness Center is not simply a gym; it is a home away from home, designed by women for women with an exceptionally welcoming energy, where comfort combines with great workouts, passionate coaches and diversified classes.

2)  You offer a booty barre class, a group barre class, and a total barre class- what’s the difference between all 3 classes

Booty Barre was founded by Tracey Mallet, being a dancer and PILATES teacher, she created sexy, energetic, fun workout that fuses PILATES, YOGA and DANCE. An hour-long class consists of a dynamic warm up and upper bodywork, followed by 30 minutes at the Barre working in different directions with cardio blasts to keep the heart rate elevated. High energy music will keep you motivated to get in those last few reps!

Total Barre workout is an addition to the fitness world from Canadian Pilates factory STOTT. Incorporating Pilates principles with the ballet elements this workout strengthens and lengthens your body.

BARRE class has a more conventional approach on the client. Mix and match of ballet elements and old school fitness workout. Try all 3 and decide which your favorite is.

3) For those people who prefer to work out in gyms, why should they do group classes instead?

When working out in groups, you are surrounded by supportive, positive energy that motivates you to give every workout your all and finish the workout fully with every member of the group class.

4) What are the benefits of a varied workout?

It is proven that if you challenge yourself in different ways you will gain the most of it.      Focusing only on one type of exercise is not enough to be fit and healthy. For example, it would be ideal for you to work on your flexibility (yoga), cardio and strength and posture (Pilates). All of this you can experience in our beautiful studio.

5) Mat Pilates and reformer Pilates are both offered at your studio. What’s the difference between the two and which one is better?

One cannot say which is better as both are equally useful. Reformer is a Pilates machine that uses resistance springs to challenge your body while mat PILATES uses different props or your own body weight. Both focus on proper body alignment. Often clients combine these two so they don’t get bored easily.

6) We would like your top 3 tips to any lady trying to start her workout routine but unsure of how to go about it.

  • Set weekly goals for yourself.
  • Make sure your goals are realistic and clear.
  • Start slow and then gradually build up to more intense exercises.

Fitness Instructor at Motion:

Antonija Omeragic

Master of Kinesiology

STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor

In her early age Antonija started to show interest for sport.  Her passion for the sport continued through college during her education at the University of Kinesiology in Zagreb, Croatia. University provided a firm foundation for an ongoing education in the Health and Fitness Industry.

Further education in Pilates (STOTT EDUCATION ) has been more than helpful in understanding human body and realizing the importance of good posture ( spine ). An on-going education is everything in the Health and Fitness Industry, and so, Antonija tries to keep up with the latest news and trends.


Walk Your Way to Fitness

Walking is more than a way to get from here to there. Tossing on a pair of sneakers and heading out for a stroll has numerous health benefits that go way beyond weight loss. If you are new to exercise, recovering from an injury, or just hoping to spend more time in nature, walking is the perfect first step.

Getting Started on a Walking Program

The best part about walking for health and fitness is that all you need is a pair of sneakers. If you have an injury, or are recovering from one, or if you struggle doing weight-bearing activities, it is recommended that you consult your physician before incorporating any physical activity into your routine.

Once you are committed to starting a walking program, schedule 15–20 minutes 5 times a week to get outside and find your stride.

Day 1 should involve a brisk walk for 15 minutes that is slightly faster than a leisure stroll, but not so quick that you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation. Assess how you feel after your first day. A little soreness can be expected if you are not used to walking for longer intervals.

Repeat your 15-minute route on Day 2. If you woke up feeling great after your first walk, tack on an extra 5 minutes on the second day.

If you are feeling fatigued, Day 3 can be used as a rest day. However, if you are still feeling energized and strong, go for another 15- to 20-minute walk.

Day 4 will be your final walk before you rest day, so really try and push yourself. If you have been maintaining 15 minutes all week, bump it up to 20 minutes. If you have been going for 20-minute walks, aim for 25 minutes.

Day 5 is the perfect time to rest and reflect on your success so far this week. You have already walked between 60 and 80 minutes, which is about half the amount of moderate weekly exercise recommended by the Mayo Clinic.

Now that your legs are rested, it’s time to push yourself with a 25–35 minute walk. You’re going to be walking farther than you have all week, so make sure you start out slower than usual and gradually build speed over the duration of your walk.

Day 7 is your last rest day for the week. Keep this framework each week while adding time, distance, and speed to your workouts. Before you know it, you will be walking for 60 minutes straight!

What’s in a Number?

If you have been walking for a while and are ready to kick it up a notch, strap on your step counter, and aim to be part of the 10,000 Steps a Day Club. While 10,000 steps isn’t an official recommendation by the Center for Disease Control, it is an achievable goal to help you stay healthy and active. By walking 10,000 steps each day, you are covering roughly 5 miles (there’s roughly 2,000 steps per mile) while burning an additional 3,500 calories a week. That is equivalent to 1 lb of fat! Here are some changes you can make to help you get your steps in.

  1. Walk to work: If you live within walking distance of your office, this is an easy change to make. Start by vowing to walk to work three days a week. Not only will you get more steps in, but the fresh air will leave you feeling alert and focused by the time you arrive at the office.
  2. Skip a stop: If you commute on a bus, metro, or train, get off a stop or two before your workplace. These extra few blocks will quickly add up on your step counter.
  3. Back of the lot: When heading to the shopping mall or grocery store, choose a parking space far from the entrance. Not only will you get extra steps in, but you will also have lots of parking spaces available and no worries about carts or car doors dinging you.
  4. Take the stairs: Skip the elevator and head for the stairwell. Climbing stairs is a great way to tone your legs and behind, while improving your cardiovascular fitness. If you work on the 20th floor of a high-rise, taking the stairs might seem like an impossible task – especially first thing in the morning. Instead of dismissing the idea, hop off the elevator a few floors early and continue your commute in the stairwell. Slowly add more floors until you can conquer them all.
  5. Lunch hour stroll: Keep a pair of sneakers at your desk and head out of the office on your lunch break for a walk. It’s a great time to get some fresh air, clear your head, and relax a little before a long afternoon of meetings and emails.
  6. After-dinner routine: Make it part of your evening routine to head outside for a stroll after dinner. It’s a great opportunity to set a healthy example and bond with your family. The dishes can wait.

Unexpected Benefits of Walking

Losing weight, toning your legs and buttocks, and having more energy are great benefits associated with walking, but these aren’t the only benefits your body will experience when you lace up your shoes. You might be surprised by these additional health benefits associated with walking.

  1. Happiness: Exercise is a great way to boost your mood. Going for a brisk walk can help reduce anxiety and stress.
  2. Dementia Prevention: Going for a 30–40 minute walk a few times a week can prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss.
  3. Digestion: Going for a walk after a meal can help speed up your rate of digestion. A quick 15-minute walk will stimulate your midsection and help you feel less bloated.
  4. Immunity Boost: Studies suggest that walking for 30 to 40 minutes will boost the amount of immune system cells in your body. This increase in cells remains for several hours after exercising.2Also, when a person follows a regular workout routine, there appears to be a cumulative effect that helps protect the body from illness over time.

Whether you have had a stressful day or you want to start on a weight-loss journey, walking is the perfect solution. Start today by slipping on your tennis shoes and exploring your neighborhood. You might be surprised by how quickly you notice the benefits.